Neutral Milk Hotel Threaten to Reunite




Tall Dwarfs + The Olivia Tremor Control
Bowery Ballroom, August 2

This was a double-reunion tour and my mind’s a battlefield–one of these bands had a grenade to jump. New Zealand’s Tall Dwarfs, kind hacks, did so smilingly, for a fuxxor crowd with a visible age divide but party shirts aplenty.

Young kids there who made the grave mistake of clicking “Tall Dwarfs” under Guided By Voices’ AMG influenced by’s really wanted to dig the Dwarfs–that was clear–really wanted to understand how the band could be important but not listenable. The Down Under accent gets them off the bad vox hook, even the racist hook (not really), but Jesus Christ you’re like a hundred years old, learn to play the guitar already. Breaking strings on stage is only impressive when done on purpose, or accidentally with your teeth.

Old kids, especially when the (short) Dwarf with no sleeves on his shirt said, “We live 600 miles apart, we don’t get much time to practice,” got the jokes a little too much. Then they played a song, then another one, then a cover, then ten more songs, each one a better argument for late-term abortion (like, now) than the one before.

During the “Gospel song for people who don’t believe in God”, Sleeveless (Snow White’s eighth) explained, “Somewhere inside of you there is an African American screaming to get out.” Nope.

The Olivias crizzed “Jumping Fences,” their best song ever if we count how many times I’ve put it on eighth-date mixtapes, and the visuals killed my Coolpix’s cool pics (see above). But I’d never seen my pre-Outkast Hotlantans live, and Dusk At Cubist Castle, barring the “Green Typewriters” suite–which last night half the band insisted on playing live while the other half knew all the wanky shit mid-suite is wanky wanky wanky–still holds up nice on the old 40 gig. I found myself there less for the show, more for the moments: the shiver-inducing ending of “Grass Canons”, the tape loops and indie moshes and crazy bowed saw, Jeff Mangum.

Yeah–Mangum definitely drew the most shock and awww, especially when the tears started dripping. My friend asked why he was crying; someone by us answered, “He’s just happy to be alive.” OK, I said that. But what Mangum accomplished more of these back-from-the-dead jokers could learn from: forget the reunion, stick to cameos.